Most Efficient Heat Pumps Reviews and Buying Guide 2019

The most efficient heat pump models dramatically reduce energy use. It wasn’t long ago that a 20 SEER heat pump was unheard of. Now, most major brands make a unit that hits the 20 SEER mark. The most efficient heat pump has a SEER rating above 23.

List of the Most Efficient Heat Pumps

The most efficient heat pump models are:

  • Lennox Signature Series XP25: 23.5 SEER/10.2 HSPF
  • Carrier Infinity 20 & Bryant Evolution 280A Heat Pump: 20.5 SEER/13 HSPF
  • Daikin DZ20VC &Amana AVZC20: 21 SEER/10 HSPF
  • Rheem Prestige RP20 & Ruud UP20: 20 SEER/11 HSPF
  • York Affinity YZV: 20 SEER/11 HSPF
  • Trane XV20i Heat Pump & American Standard Platinum 20: 20 SEER/10 HSPF
  • Lennox Elite XP20: 20 SEER/10 HSPF
  • Armstrong Air 4SHP20LX & AirEase SHP20LX: 20 SEER/10 HSPF

Identical models from the same parent company are placed on the same line.

As you can see, all meet or exceed 20 SEER cooling and 10 HSPF heating.

Note: SEER is the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating and measures cooling efficiency; HSPF is the Heating Season Performance Factor and measures heating.

Most brands are also releasing cooling efficiency ratings in EER, the Energy Efficiency Rating.

  • SEER averages cooling over a season.
  • EER measures how efficient the unit can be at any point in time, so the rating is higher.

The fact they use EER allows you to compare the efficiency of split system air conditioners with other types that use EER such as mini split, window and room air conditioners. Most geothermal units are rated in EER too (as well as COP).

Scroll down to see the Most Efficient Heat Pump Reviews. But first, a little technical and practical information about variable capacity heat pumps.

Variable Capacity Heating and Cooling

The most efficient heat pumps use state of the art compressors.

Also called modulating, variable capacity compressors speed up (more heat/cool) or slow down (less heat/cool) to deliver exactly the right amount of heating or cooling.

Variable capacity compressor analysis:

  • Precision: Ramp up and down like your vehicle’s cruise control in increments of 1% or less
  • Range: Have a heating/cooling range from 35% or 40% of the unit’s capacity, depending on the model, to 100%
  • Efficiency: Run at the lowest capacity needed to deliver the amount of heating or air conditioning needed (the key to their high efficiency)
  • Climate control: Work with variable speed air handlers to create near-perfect temperature balance and superior dehumidification when in AC mode

Reason to Consider a Super-efficient Heat Pump

Most homeowners choose a variable capacity heat pump for premium climate control. Consider:

  • Two-stage heat pumps offer efficiency up to 19 SEER and 10 HSPF, so they are nearly as efficient. In most climates, you wouldn’t see much difference on your energy bills whether you chose one of the most efficient two-stage models or a variable capacity heat pump.
  • Two-stage models cost an average of 25% less. They’re a better value.

Some heat pump salespeople push variable capacity heating and air conditioning.

  • Efficiency: Yes, it is more efficient.
  • Equipment cost: But it costs more, and it will take you 8-25 years of lower energy bills to recoup the higher cost.

In the hottest parts of the Southwest, a variable capacity heat pump might pay for itself through lower energy costs. But not anywhere else.

It’s the Humidity

Here are a couple of questions:

Q: Have you heard someone, who probably lives in Arizona, say, “It’s dry heat, so 100 degrees doesn’t feel that hot”?

There’s truth to that statement. Humidity, or lack of it, is the overlooked component in indoor climate control and comfort.

Q: Have you heard the expression, “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity”?

Ask anyone in Georgia or Louisiana or southern Missouri or a lot of other places in the South and Southeast what that means, and you’ll get an earful. Visit in July and feel it firsthand.

High heat coupled with high humidity is oppressive.

Even if you don’t live in the South or Southeast, you know what we’re talking about. It probably gets humid where you live too.

Sticky. Muggy. Sultry. Close. You know the feeling.

In our experienced opinion, a variable capacity heat pump makes the most sense in climates with the dreaded combination of heat and humidity.

Most Efficient Heat Pump Reviews

There are more similarities than differences in these units, but we’ll point out important features and distinctions to help you choose a good fit for your HVAC project. Quality ratings are 1 (poor) to 5 (best).

#1 Lennox Signature Series XP25

Lennox doesn’t lead the industry in quality, but it makes the most efficient heat pumps, air conditioners and gas furnaces.

With the addition of Lennox SunSource solar equipment, you can run your HVAC system for free in most climates.

Efficiency: 23.5 SEER/10.2 HSPF

Warranty features: 10 years on all parts. No perks.

Quality rating: 4.0. Good, but not great. Lennox uses more Lennox-made parts than Carrier, Trane and other top brands. Some of those parts aren’t as good as heat pump parts produced by dedication parts manufacturers like Emerson and Copeland. Plus, there has been a nagging

Installed cost: $3,800-$6,100 for units from 24,000 to 60,000 BTUs (2-5 tons). 

#2 Carrier Infinity 20 & Bryant Evolution 280A Heat Pump

Carrier and Bryant are Ingersoll Rand brands, and these heat pumps are identical except for the cabinet and name plates. These are reliable brands. Carrier heat pumps cost more because it is marketed as a premium brand, and marketing costs money.

Efficiency: 20.5 SEER/13 HSPF. The heating efficiency is the best available from a split system heat pump.

Warranty features: 10 years. No perks.

Quality Rating: 4.5. Expect excellent reliability, but remember to keep the unit maintained per the warranty. Failing to maintain a heat pump or any component might void the warranty. That’s true from all manufacturers.

Installed cost: $3,675-$5,800 depending on size of the heat pump.

#3 Daikin DZ20VC & Amana AVZC20

It’s a little complicated.

Goodman Manufacturing has owned the Amana brand for 20+ years.

In 2012, HVAC giant Daikin Global bought Goodman/Amana to get its foot in the North American residential heating and cooling market.

There’s not a Goodman model in this mix because Daikin is maintaining the Goodman brand as the low-cost leader in the industry.

Efficiency: 21 SEER/10 HSPF

Warranty features: Lifetime warranty on the compressor. 10 years on all other parts. This is one of the best warranties in the industry.

Quality rating: 4.25. With the acquisition, Daikin began an upgrade of Goodman/Amana quality.

Installed cost: $3,375-$5,400 based on heat pump size.

#4 Rheem Prestige RP20 & Ruud UP20

Rheem is an iconic HVAC brand, so we’re glad to see improvements to quality and efficiency have been recently made. In fact, the upgrades have been impressive, and there is much higher confidence in Rheem and its identical sister-brand Ruud (both owned by Paloma Industries).

Efficiency: 20 SEER/11 HSPF

Warranty features: 10 years. No perks.

Quality rating: 4.25. As noted, confidence is again growing in the quality and dependability of Rheem and Ruud.

Installed cost: $3,550-$5,625

#5 York Affinity YZV

York is the best-known brand from Johnson Controls. Luxaire, Coleman, Champion, Gibson and others are identical brands. It’s hard to keep track in this era of consolidation. The point is that if there is no York dealer in your area – or they have a bad reputation for workmanship and/or customer service – you might be able to find another dealer that sells one of the identical brands.

Johnson Controls had a serious issue with its micro-channel coils leaking, causing replacement issues and a lot of money spent in warranty work. The company claims the issues have been fixed, and early evidence supports the claim. Time will tell. We do like their upgrade in performance and efficiency too.

Efficiency: 20 SEER/11 HSPF

Warranty features: Lifetime compressor warranty, 10-year general parts warranty and 1-year labor warranty. This might be the best warranty available today. Johnson Controls and its brands are making the effort to show the increased quality and confidence they have in their heat pumps and other HVAC products.

Quality rating: 4.25. Initial reports are good, but you can’t tell for several years whether upgrades have led to long-term improvement in quality.

Installed cost: $3,395-$5,475

#6 Trane XV20i Heat Pump & American Standard Platinum 20

These Ingersoll-Rand brands are in the top three in quality. Their repair record and longevity are excellent.

Efficiency: 20 SEER/10 HSPF

Warranty features: 10 years on all parts. No perks.

Quality rating: 4.75

Installed cost: $4,250-$5,725 

#7 Lennox Elite XP20

Lennox shows its commitment to energy efficiency by placing two heat pumps on the “Most Efficient Heat Pump” list. This is a variable capacity heat pump with very good heating and air conditioning efficiency.

Efficiency: 20 SEER/10 HSPF

Warranty features: 10 years on all parts. No special benefits.

Quality rating: 4.0

Installed cost: $3,475-$5,500. Lennox is one of the most expensive brands…probably the most expensive.

 #8 Armstrong Air 4SHP20LX & AirEase SHP20LX

If you’re looking for good quality at a fair price, these are solid brands. We think they’re a good value for the money. Armstrong Air and AirEase are Allied Air brands. Allied Air is owned by Lennox. These heat pumps are likely just about identical to the Lennox Elite XP20 above.

Efficiency: 20 SEER/10 HSPF

Warranty features: 10 years on all parts. Nothing special.

Quality rating: 4.0

Installed cost: $3,250-$5,325. Cost is lower than the Lennox version because these brands are positioned in the market as “affordable” models.

How to Use your Heat Pump Efficiently

What is the most efficient way to use heat pump technology?

Here are a few tips for getting optimal efficiency from your heat pump and air conditioning system too.

  1. Use a programable thermostat

This allows you to have your home comfortable when you’re there and use less energy when you’re gone.

 Set the temperature higher during summer and lower in winter when you’re away. You can program the thermostat to make your home comfortably warm or cool, depending on the season, when you get there.

  1. Use a WiFi thermostat

They cost more, but thermostats with WiFi capabilities give you the most flexibility.

See our in-depth Thermostat Buying Guide and brand guides for nest, ecobee, Lux and other leading thermostat brands for comprehensive information.

  1. Choose an energy-efficient heat pump

Buying a heat pump with the right efficiency for your climate will help you get the best value. Generally, the more extreme your temperatures, the more efficient the heat pump should be.

The PickHVAC Heat Pump Buying Guide discusses matching efficiency to your climate and has a wealth of additional buying information.  

Of course, if your goal is to reduce energy use and carbon emissions by as much as possible, then get estimates and find the most efficient heat pump you can afford, regardless of where you live.

  1. Upgrade your home’s insulation

There is much you can do. Small DIY projects include adding weather stripping to windows and doors with a loose fit and increasing attic insulation. The cost of minor upgrades like this are paid back in a few years.

When it is time to update your home, you have energy efficient (Energy Star in many cases) options for windows, doors, roofing, siding and other building materials. These are major projects. Their cost is recouped over decades.

  1. Reduce your need for heat

Wearing an extra layer of clothing or insulated slippers will keep you warmer.It can reduce your need for heat by 3-6 degrees..

Sure, extra clothing is bulky, but you will soon get used to it.

And it is very easy to get comfortable with lower energy bills that are a result of reduced use.

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